Green building materials – Composed of renewable and/or recycled materials, rather than nonrenewable resources.
What kinds of green building materials are there?
Building materials that are energy-efficient, sustainable, reusable, and that help and do not harm the planet are very important in the construction industry. Green building materials do one or more of the following: save water or energy, conserve natural resources, recycle, reuse, reuse or recover from other sources. All of these building materials are designed and manufactured to be environmentally friendly and use fewer natural resources. There are many eco-friendly building materials on the market, and choosing the best materials for eco-friendly construction can be quite a challenge.
Start with the foundation of your home,
which is usually made of concrete that uses cement as a binder. The process of making cement involves extremely high temperatures of about 2,700 degrees Fahrenheit (1,482 degrees Celsius), which send large amounts of carbon dioxide into the earth’s atmosphere. The greener cement-making process uses fly ash from industrial waste, reducing the amount of cement needed and making concrete stronger and less permeable. While this green concrete takes a little longer and doesn’t cost more, the long-term environmental impacts may be worth the trade-off. Other green building materials used in foundations include modular precast concrete panels, insulated concrete forms, and bricks, which are made up of up to 40% fly ash.
Green building materials
also include many different types and forms of insulation, such as batting, material that is carried away between walls, and foam. The greenest of these materials include cellulose, recycled glass, blue jeans, or newsprint. There are even fire-resistant, non-toxic, and mold-resistant varieties of insulation with high R-values that work well in any home or commercial application. About a third of all heat escapes through windows in the structure. The most energy-efficient windows combine coated glass, glazing techniques, and gas or air spaces.
Other types of green building materials
include different types of roofing materials. For particularly hot regions of the country, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends a so-called cool roof, which consists of reflective shingles or coated materials that prevent heat absorption, reducing the energy needed for air conditioning. Because of its reflective properties and 50-year lifespan, a roof made of galvanized steel or a similar alloy is also a good choice for eco-friendly building materials. Traditional roofing shingles provide less insulation and typically last 15 to 20 years.
Granite, marble, or slate countertops may seem like a good choice for green building, but the processes used to mine, cut, grind, polish, and transport these heavy slabs can use precious natural resources. Wood is a renewable resource, but can also use as other resources in recycling. The green alternative to new wood is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified or recycled timber, made from barns and old wood structures such as demolished factories and warehouses, or forests that practice environmentally and economically responsible forestry practices. The processes used to create the new type of FSC-certified wood provide a greener alternative to new wood.